Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Long Live the Beebs!

Okay, there is one good thing to come out of the CBC labour dispute. In the early evenings, they now play programs from the BBC. Goddammit, they have some good programs!
Bring Back My CBC!

At last a glimmer of positive news on the CBC labour dispute - the two sides are meeting today.
**fingers crossed**

I was reading a Macleans article about CBC while waiting in the doctors' office today. The author, Steve Maich, contends that the real issue is not that there are two visions of the CBC's mission which need to meet partway, as put forth by Peter Mansbridge, but rather that the CBC does not know whether it should be offering a public service or selling a product.

He does have a valid point, particularly as relates to TV. CBC Radio has its mandate straight. It is commercial free and functions as a unique voice for Canadians. CBC TV, however, is somewhat of a mishmash between news/current affairs, entertainment and sports. The very competitive nature of the medium dictates that it is not commercial free, but perhaps it should be. Perhaps the focus should be narrowed to news, current affairs and sports, all of which are done extremely well, and the very costly and non-lucrative entertainment efforts should be ditched. The sports broadcasting, particularly Hockey Night in Canada, is a money-maker and could continue in a commercial venue. The news and current affairs could be broadcast commercial free.

Now, get talking to each other, you CBCers. Bring back my programs and my buddies. I miss Sook Yin Lee, George Stroumboulopoulos, Sheelagh Rogers, Don McSwiney, Jian Gomeshi, Peter McBain, Jeff Collins, Stuart McLean, and even Jim Brown (even though Eva says he sounds just like Troy McClure from the Simpsons).

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Zombies Rule

So I've been asked about the title of my blog. I believe the specific question was: "why the hell would you pick such a stupid name?"

First of all, zombies are not stupid. Wait, never mind. They are stupid. But that's part of their charm. You've got a chance against zombies. Except if there are way too many of them, and you've got a broken leg or something. Or if you are blind. It would be really hard to fend off a horde of zombies if you were blind. Or alone. You need someone covering your back (quite literally).

I've been enamoured with zombies ever since I saw Night of the Living Dead. (Yes, of course, the original). George Romero had me from the first chomp. But my favourite all-time zombie film is Dawn of the Dead (again, yes of course, the original). This movie hit us where most of us lived. I mean, I used to be a bit of a mall-zombie when I was a teenager. You probably were, too. What more perfect setting for a zombie film/social commentary than a shopping mall? The mall is analogous to our suburban lifestyles. All the necessities of life are contained under its dome - shelter, clothing, food (of a sort), entertainment, social interactions. When the walking hungry dead descend upon us, what better place to hole up than the neighbourhood mall?

And of course zombies themselves are an analogy for many mall inhabitants. Mindless, ruled by a mob mentality, shuffling along to the Walmart in search of fulfillment, which can never be sated. Chomp, chomp, that's better, oops, need more.

Another great zombie film which made a fantastic social commentary was Shaun of the Dead. Of course, this was also a tribute to the great Romero zombie films, but if anything, Shaun of the Dead has an even wider appeal, attributable to its insanely wicked humour and to the presence of the lovable underachiever (Shaun) played by the irrepressible Simon Pegg. Although the zombies in Shaun of the Dead are gory, numerous and deadly, they can be dispatched with a concentrated effort that has parallels to a video game. Now there's a statement on modern society.

The other British zombie film produced around the same time, 28 Days Later, raised the bar on the deadliness of a zombie attack through zombies that did not shuffle, but actually ran. Holy shit! That's a whole new ball game! I guess we should expect no less from Danny Boyle, after the brilliant direction of Trainspotting. And Cillian Murphy, with his lovely long eyelashes, as our hero Jim, is a nice touch. It's a damn shame he's now gone the direction of that other Boyle wunderkind, Ewan McGregor, appearing in Hollywood movies with a fake American accent.

But I digress.

I'm now eagerly looking forward to the DVD release of Romero's Land of the Dead, as I missed the theatre run. And these zombies can think and plan! The bar just keeps going higher. But if they can think and plan, will they still go to Walmart?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Matthew Good is my hero!

But if you know me, you already know that.

I've been using my blogtime to style my site a bit (looks better, don't you think?), so I'm going to defer to the master of blogging himself for today's enlightenment.

Stop reading this now and click on the Matthew Good link over on the sidebar. Under one of Matt's posts from today, entitled "Bob Roberts" there is a priceless link to a satirical video of George Bush's Speechalist. It is worth the effort.

Go. Go now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Is that a sidebar over there, or are you just happy to see me?

Cast your eyes to the right for a glance at a ... wait for it ... SIDEBAR! It's still rudimentary, but I have great visions for it, for I love the much-maligned sidebar. I see perkier colours, a streamlined font, sassy categories. Oh it going to be beautiful!

And it isn't even that hard to do, if you don't let yourself get intimidated by the html code. And, hey, you're talking to a girl who used to use DOS (yes, I'm that old, godammit!)

Stayed tuned.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Goodbye Bear 66, Welcome Home Eva

Bear 66 was killed by a train this week, while she was grazing for berries alongside the railroad track outside of Banff. There was no evidence of spilled grain on the tracks, as is often the case when train meets bear, just bad luck looking for berries. Sadly, another magnificent grizzly gone.

And she was a particularly interesting bear. She had several encounters with humans, but was not considered aggressive, although she did nip a fellow on the bum about a month ago when he woke up after illegally camping in the backwoods, to find her sniffing at him. She just wanted a little taste to satisfy her curiosity.

Bear 66 leaves three cubs behind to fend for themselves. Hopefully they will survive on their own. Watch out for trains.
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On a much happier note, Eva returned home from camp today, and everyone is home all next week (actually I'm on holiday for 2 weeks). I want to go down to Inglewood to browse through Recordland and maybe take Eva on a pilgrimage to Value Village. Jerry may take a day-trip to the Little Bow Provincial Park to do some fishing.
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Apparently John Roberts, George Bush's nominee for the US Supreme Court (to replace the retired Sandra Day O'Connor) has supported both the use of prayer in school and the staging of so-called memorial services to protest legal abortion. Perhaps this revelation of his agenda will bolster opposition to his nomination, which appeared to be waning recently. Because if he is successful in gaining a seat, he could seriously do damage to abortion rights in the US, by swaying the balance of power in the nine-member Supreme Court.

Day O'Connor's retirement creates the first vacancy in over ten years. Surely there are some moderates out there who could fill the position.

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This week I confiscated one of Eva's mixed CDs and discovered some good new stuff (well, new for me):

  • Stiff Little Fingers
  • X-Ray Specs
  • Neutral Milk Hotel
  • The Coral
  • The Futureheads

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gimme Sidebars!

This week I was going to figure out how to put some sexy sidebars on this here blog, but haven't had time. Work sure interferes with life. I want sidebars, goddammit!! Because everybody needs to have a quick link from here to some of those unfortunate less-travelled sites, like mblog, The Hour, and NME.

I'm going in to battle the link monsters. *deep breath* If you don't hear from me in a week or so, send my mother a telegram and let her know I fought the good fight.

Friday, August 12, 2005

But enough about you, now let's talk about me

Today is all about me because:
  1. I got a whole page in the Calgary Herald, in Swerve magazine, describing my Folk Festival contest win, and my picture is not even that bad! They even printed my playlist which won the contest. Check it out if you get a chance: Friday, August 12, 2005 Swerve magazine of the Calgary Herlad, page 28, entitled "View from the Golden Tarp"
  2. We are going to use the last of the prize package tonight (gift certificate to O.N. restaurant in the Calgary Eau Claire Westin). In fact, it was when I was browsing the Westin website, looking for a menu (because Jerry always likes to know what he is going to order before he gets there), that I came across these pictures of the suite we stayed in the first night of the Folk Festival. Opulent, yes? See that baby grand piano in the living room? I played Mary had a Little Lamb on that.





Thursday, August 11, 2005

Extraordinary Rendition: Now There's a Phrase We Could Do Without

The erosion of human rights around the world is starting to worry me more and more. The pursuit of national security, an increasingly maniacal obsession of the US administration, is fast overtaking any sober discourse in US foreign and domestic policy.

The secret policy (no longer so secret) of extraordinary rendition, in which the US uses another country to extract information through torture, and the declaration by the US that foreign travellers passing through the country enroute to other destinations are without any constitutional rights are very worrisome. And of course, now Tony Blair has underhandedly pushed through propositions in the UK which will seriously undermine any security that those of Arab appearance will have in the UK, all in the name of national security.

I will be watching very closely the lawsuit which Maher Arar has brought against the US government following his extradition to Syria and subsequent torture. Mr. Arar is suing the Canadian government as well for being partially complicit in his deportation to Syria and subsequent torture. For indeed they did fail to protect him, a Canadian citizen. The case against the US government, however, is by far the most crucial, in that it challenges the extraordinary rendition policy and other US policies that erode civil rights. Aside from the fact that Mr Arar wants recognition of the harm done to him, this case is critical to human rights around the world. We all need to beware.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This is News?

Oh, for Christ's sake, on page 2 of today's newspaper (page 2!) there's a picture of that big googly-eyed "runaway bride" woman, mowing the lawn as part of her community service. I won't say which paper, as it is one that I normally respect, ie not one of those Sun pieces of crap. But is there not real news happening all over the world, godamnit? I give you Iran, Iraq, withdrawal of Gaza settlers, nuclear disarmament talks, fatal oil well blowout at Brooks, toxic derailment at Lake Wabamun, premiers' conference...

I don't want to see or hear any more about that goofy woman, but at least she had the decency to wear sun glasses in the photo so we didn't have to look at those big googly-eyes.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Sixty years ago today an American plane dropped a plutonium bomb on the city of Nagaski, killing 70,000 people instantly, with 140,000 more dying later as a direct result. And this was a mere three days after the Enola Gay
dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 140,000.

I have nothing left to say.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

What Do You Wear to a Witch Wedding?

Okay, so it wasn't really a wedding; it was one of those ceremonies where people say their wedding vows again. It's not something I'd ever do, as I think the vows Jerry and I took at the London, Ontario courthouse are still in effect even after 16 years, but some people find it important at a certain point in their lives.

The thing is, we thought we were just going to a 40th birthday party on their acreage, as did the other 100 or so people attending. There was no sign of the birthday girl when we arrived (an hour late due to the Deerfoot being closed on account of a fatal collision), nor of the other Marthas (that group with whom I regularly get away on Womenly Weekends). But there were these unknown folks milling about, all dressed in purple. Witches, apparently, the Airdrie coven. And some of them were boy-witches too. I'm told that the term warlock is derogatory (who knew?), so I'll stick with boy-witches.

Now I knew that Bev had been getting into spiritualism recently, but apparently she's now a full-fledged witch. So they did the wedding vow thing as a Wican ceremony. Strange but oddly fitting.

And Eva wrote on the autographed picture frame which everyone signed:
"The spleen is the new liver"
They'll never figure that one out.
And Sandra made a boob-print in the birthday cake while carrying it out. She wore a chocolate cake badge on her left boob all evening.

I thought the boy-witch couple holding hands and snuggling in front of the bonfire were adorable, as did Eva, but Jerry and his manly fishing buddies did a lot of giggling and rib-elbowing.

Back to a second week of full time work tomorrow, but at least our home computer is back from the hospital. Yayyy!

songs I'm currently obsessing on (in no particular order):
The Slow Descent into Alcoholism - The New Pornographers
American Music - The Violent Femmes
Can't Stand Me Now - The Libertines
Blood of a Young Wolf - Buck 65
Change of Season - Matthew Good
No Sissies - Hawksley Workman
Young Lions - The Constantines
Do give some of them a listen. Also, Matt Good will soon be releasing In a Coma, with two marketing options - one of which has a DVD. Ooooo, and my birthday is just two months away.
Amendment:
Shit. I forgot Wilco. I don't know how, since Jeff Tweedy's voice has been haunting me since the Folk Festival, but there you are. The song I am obsessing on is:
I am Trying to Break Your Heart

Tuesday, August 02, 2005





Contributions from my Crack-Team of Photo Hacks

For your enjoyment, here are some snaps from the Calgary Folk Festival, compliments of Eva Olechowski (aka: the aforementioned crack-team of photo hacks). These were taken at the Sunday morning workshop featuring The Weakerthans, Christine Fellows, and Jackie Leven. It was raining and 7 degrees Celsius, which eliminated the prescence of any scenesters and allowed us unfettered and arms-length access to the show. And then the camera batteries crapped out...